A history of 7th Battalion, The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) / 92nd (Loyals) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
By Tom McCarthy
I STARTED this project in 1992, five years after my father’s death. Although he had sometimes talked about his war service, I knew very little detail other than that he had landed in France on D-Day.
However, when I tried to find out more about 7th Loyals / 92nd LAA, I discovered that published material was sparse. So I decided to do my own research – and it became something of a labour of love.
In the ensuing 20 years, I gathered a mountain of information and managed to piece together the whole story. My main documentary source was the regimental, battalion and battery war diaries and other official military papers held at the Public Record Office (now the National Archives) in Kew, South West London.
But by far the most valuable contribution has been that of my father’s old comrades, several of whom I was lucky enough to trace. As well as sharing their time and their memories, they have twice given me the privilege of accompanying them back to the Normandy battlefields. I will always be grateful to them.
In addition, I have been helped immensely by the families of deceased regimental members who have passed on to me photographs, documents, letters and memoirs, and by other amateur researchers and historians – mostly via the magic of the Internet. All have been unfailingly kind and generous and I offer my thanks.
7th Loyals / 92nd LAA was one of scores of Army units which were raised specifically for service in the Second World War and disbanded soon after. In most cases, they had no tradition or longevity to commend them to the historian. Thus many valiant deeds have almost certainly gone unrecorded and many heroes remain unsung. I hope this history may perhaps inspire others to tell the stories of such units before endeavours fade.
Having said all that, this is not a definitive or official record of 7th Loyals / 92nd LAA and any errors or omissions are mine alone. However, it is a story well worth the telling. The five-and-a-half year journey of the recruits from drilling with broom handles in the shadow of Caernarvon Castle to becoming one of the crack light anti-aircraft regiments of the British Liberation Army is a tale of dedication, skill and – above all – courage.
In particular, 92nd LAA’s tenacious defence of the vital bridges across the Caen Canal and River Orne (Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge) in the days after D-Day, despite losing its reinforcements, was a remarkable feat of arms.
Scores of people have helped me with this history, in ways large and small. Sadly, some are no longer with us. Among many others, I would like to record my debt to Ronald Prince, George Baker, Len Harvey, John (Jack) Prior, Jim Holder-Vale, Tom Mason, David (Dai) Jones, Arthur Walters, Bill Wills and Frank Symons. I would also like to thank the Imperial War Museum for its generosity in allowing me to use several photographs.
But most of all, I want to thank my wife Eileen for giving me love and encouragement above and beyond the call of duty during my many years of research.
This history is dedicated to the memory of my father, 3862893 Leo John McCarthy (Private, B Company, 7th Loyals / Gunner, F Troop, 318 Battery, 92nd LAA) to the memory of my mother Mary, and to all who served.
May 2012 / revised May 2015
The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)
THE Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) originated in 1741 from the 47th Regiment of Foot, raised by Major-General John Mordaunt. It had early connections with Lincolnshire, but established a depot in Preston in 1782. ‘Lancashire’ was added to its title in 1881 and the crest of the Duchy of Lancaster – the Royal crest – was adopted. The rose in the regimental badge is the red roseof Lancashire.
The regiment’s mottowas Loyaute M’Oblige (My LoyaltyCompels Me). During the Loyals’ 230-year history as a regiment of the line, itsmen fought in virtually every campaignof note. At Quebec in 1749, their actionswon them the title of Wolfe’s Own. Othercampaigns included the American Warof Independence, the Napoleonic Wars – when the regiment won honours at Maida in Italy – and the Boer War, where the Loyals stood fast in defence of Kimberley.
In the First World War, the regiment fought on the Western Front and saw service in Baghdad, the Dardanelles and East Africa. This admirable record continued in the Second World War, when the Loyals were among the last soldiers to leave Dunkirk. The regiment later fought in North Africa, Italy and the Far East.
In the North West Europe campaign, 92nd and 93rd LAA – formerly the 7th and 8th battalions of the Loyals – served with distinction. The Loyals, whose headquarters were at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, were amalgamated with the Lancashire Regiment in 1970 to form the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. In 2006, the QLR was amalgamated with the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and the King’s Regiment to form the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
The Royal Artillery
THE Royal Artillery, full title The Royal Regiment of Artillery, was formed in 1716. Its most familiar badge shows a muzzle- loading cannon with the motto Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (Whither Right and Glory Lead). Another badge is a grenade emitting seven flames, with a scroll beneath inscribed Ubique (Everywhere).
The 3rd British Infantry Division
THE 3rd Division was formed on the orders of the Duke of Wellington in June 1809 as he reorganised his brigades into larger formations in Portugal to continue the Peninsular War against Napoleon. It became known as ‘The Fighting 3rd’. During the First World War, the divisional sign was a St Andrew’s Cross over a circle, taken from the arms of the GOC, Major-General Aylmer Haldane. During the bitter fighting of 1916, the 3rd earned the title ‘the Iron Division’.
In 1940, when General Bernard Montgomery commanded 3rd Division, it was nicknamed ‘Monty’s Ironsides’. Montgomery introduced the three-in-one red and black triangle as the division’s insignia, representing its basic make- up of three infantry brigades, each of three battalions. Today, the division’s proud tradition continues as the 3rd (UK) Division.
3rd British Infantry Division Order of Battle, D-Day
Sword Beach, Normandy, June 6, 1944. H-Hour: 7.25am
8th Infantry Brigade (Assault brigade) 1st Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment; 2nd Battalion, The East Yorkshire Regiment; 1st Battalion, The South Lancashire Regiment.
185th Infantry Brigade (Follow-up brigade) 2nd Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment; 1st Battalion, The Royal Norfolk Regiment; 2nd Battalion, The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
9th Infantry Brigade (Reserve brigade) 2nd Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment; 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers; 2nd Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles.
7th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery; 33rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery; 76th (Highland) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery; 20th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery; 92nd (Loyals) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery; 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment (Northumberland Fusiliers) Royal Armoured Corps; 2nd Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment (Machine Gun); 17th Field Company, Royal Engineers; 246th Field Company, Royal Engineers; 253rd Field Company, Royal Engineers.
Units under command for assault phase
27th Armoured Brigade
13th / 18th Royal Hussars; 1st East Riding Yeomanry; The Staffordshire Yeomanry.
1st (Special Service) Brigade
3, 4 and 6 Commandos; 45 Royal Marine Commando; Two troops 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando (French); One troop Royal Marines Engineer Commando.
The full regimental history is followed by several pages of pictures. To see the caption for each picture, click on it to enlarge it, then hold your cursor over the picture.